Mar. 20-21, Scotland conference on “Islamisation: Comparative perspectives from History”

A conference on “Islamisation: Comparative perspectives from History” will be held
20-21 March 2015, University of St Andrews, St Andrews, Scotland.

The spread of Islam and the process of Islamisation has naturally attracted the attention of scholars working on many diverse parts of the Islamic world. However, such research has often been carried out in isolation, and since Nehemia Levtzion’s well-known edited volume of 1979, Conversion to Islam, few attempts have been made to compare the experiences of different parts of the Islamic world in different periods. This conference aims to address this lacuna by providing this comparative perspective, inviting studies of ‘Islamisation’ that address both its historical trajectory and the methodological problems in its study from across the Islamic world, from Africa to China, from the 7th century until the beginnings of the colonial period in c. 1800.

This conference aims to examine the phenomenon both as a cultural and a religious phenomenon. Among the questions that may be addressed are: What do we mean by Islamisation? To what extent was the spread of Islam as a religion bound up with the spread more broadly of ‘Islamicate’ culture? To what extent are Islamisation and conversion parallel processes? How is Islamisation connected with Arabization, and why were some areas apparently not especially susceptible to the spread of Arabic (e.g. Iran) while others (e.g. Egypt) were? What role do vernacular Islamicate languages – Persian, Turkish and Malay for instance – play in the promotion of Islamicate culture and the integration of pre-Islamic  culture with Islamic culture? On the religious plane, we invite papers which consider the role of conversion, methodologies for examining conversion, and the role of Muslim migrants from the central Islamic lands in promoting processes of conversion and Islamisation.

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